How Community Members Are Addressing Air Quality in Pittsburgh

Residents of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh have seen an alarming trend in the last few years.

While most areas in the US have seen an improvement in their air quality over the last 40 years—the air quality in Pittsburgh has been declining. While some of this is due to harmful activities like fracking, much of it is also caused by manufacturing facilities.

Thankfully, the community is coming together to combat air pollution through various local air quality projects.

We’re always looking at what is happening in the PurpleAir Community to see what kinds of projects are going on. Together, we’re creating a community of scientists and empowering them with the data they need to tackle air pollution all over the world.

Because at PurpleAir, we believe in making air quality knowledge accessible to everyone.

And we’re not alone in that mission.

Today, we’re excited to highlight the local air quality groups in Allegheny County, and how they’re doing their part to protect their community from poor air quality. First, we’re excited to talk about a key group of individuals working hard through the Breathe Project.

What is the Breathe Project?

Since it was founded in 2016, the Breathe Project has grown into a large group of citizens, environmental advocates, public health professionals, policymakers, and experienced academics. Together, they are working to bring attention to air quality and reduce air pollution around them.

By combining their efforts, they seek to make their region a healthier community for everyone who lives there. Over the last few years, they’ve noticed that Allegheny County’s air quality has been especially affected by various harmful activities.

What’s Causing Pittsburgh’s Air Quality to Plummet?

Locally, there are various causes for Pittsburgh’s air quality, like local geography, fracking, manufacturing facilities, and pollution caused by vehicles. According to a study published by the Carnegie Mellon University, there are also 3 other major causes of air pollution in Pittsburgh:

  1. Excessive natural gas production
  2. Increased frequency of wildfires
  3. Lack of enforcement of Clean Air Act regulations

Additionally, this excess air pollution is easily trapped close to the Earth by local climate events like temperature inversions. Knowing all of this, community members were determined to start measuring the air quality in their region, so they could start to tackle air pollution with more knowledge.

How Community Members Use PurpleAir Monitors in Pittsburgh

All over Pittsburgh, residents have started to build a better air quality monitoring system by installing PurpleAir’s air quality monitors. What started as a small network has grown into dozens of air quality monitors showing real-time, hyper-local data to all residents through the PurpleAir Map.

And not only that, Pittsburgh also has other air quality projects as well. They’ve installed a project called the Breathe Cam, which is made up of several high-resolution, live camera feeds. You can pull up the live camera feeds 24/7 to see Pittsburgh’s skyline and other areas for a real glimpse of the local air quality.


Breathe Cam in Pittsburgh


All of these efforts combined have helped Pittsburgh put a spotlight on its local air quality. While local reports show the air quality has yet to improve significantly, and Allegheny County remains of the worst places in the country for particulate pollution—we hope projects like this will help drive the conversation forward and inspire change.

Get Involved Yourself

At PurpleAir, there are tons of community projects going on around the world. We’re thrilled to see these kinds of collaborative efforts, and we look forward to seeing plenty more in the future. Are you working on a community project with PurpleAir’s air quality monitors?

We would love to hear about it. Share a post in the Community Project forum so we can highlight your work. Together, we can make air quality accessible for everyone.